Brian Wang, a senior at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Springfield, New York, is one remarkable student: he’s been accepted into all eight Ivy League schools.
The Ivy League schools, which consist of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Dartmouth and Cornell, are known for their competitiveness and very low acceptance rates among prospective applicants, but for Mr. Wang, whose parents immigrated from China to the United States in 1984, all eight were a resounding yes.
Mr. Wang’s claim to fame: he’s the first-ever high schooler to receive a score of 0 out of a possible 2400 points on the SAT, one of America’s primary college entrance exams.
“I honestly don’t know how I did it,” Mr. Wang told The New York Times. “I came to the testing center feeling energetic and prepared to write a great essay, but I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the big zero on the Colleg Board website. At first I thought to myself, it must have been a typo.”
Mr. Wang was caught completely off guard upon hearing of his admission to the Ivy League. “I wasn’t really aiming high, and I applied to a couple of small state schools and community colleges, just hoping to get into at least one,” he said.
“My friends and I all just agreed to send applications to all those schools as a joke, so we could laugh about how we applied to Harvard when we’re older. But as the acceptance letters kept coming in, I was like, ‘There’s no way this is actually happening to me.’”
He was also accepted into Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University and several State University of New York (SUNY) schools, and was waitlisted at the University of California – Davis.
Mr. Wang is ranked in the top 75% of his class of around 500, according to his guidance counselor at King High School. He is also the captain of his school’s varsity thumb wrestling team, plays the gong and the harmonica in the chamber orchestra, and serves as the director of “the Department of the Critical Evaluation of the Validity and Healthfulness of Bake Sales” in his student council. Last year, he won a statewide award for his research project on the correlation between vaccination and the risk of autism on three-year-old children.
While Mr. Wang didn’t have high hopes while applying to college, admissions officers have been all but thrilled to have him as a potential student. “Even if you write down only your name on the SAT and nothing else, you’ll still score a 200 in every subject for a combined score of 600. But we’ve never even heard of a kid with an SAT score of 0 before,” said Harvard chief admissions officer Darien Fairfax. “In fact, I’d say it’s just as difficult, if not harder, to get a 0 as it is to get a 2400. You can get a couple of multiple-choice questions wrong on the reading and writing sections and still get a 800 for both. However, to get a 0 you have to answer every multiple-choice question incorrectly without leaving any blank, and write a completely offtopic essay. If you answer just one question right you’ll still just get at least a couple of points.”
The Ivy League schools see Mr. Wang as a valuable addition to their freshman classes next year. “We’re always on the lookout for unique students that stand out beyond the rest of the pack,” said Francesca Cambridge, Princeton’s Regional Advisor for Undergraduate Admissions. “At Ivy League schools like Harvard and Princeton, the average SAT score is around 2300. Meanwhile, Mr. Wang got a score of 0—that’s 2300 points away from the average. Mathematically speaking, that’s as unique as you can get.” And Oliver Mathewson, Harvard’s Director of Student Affairs, told reporters, “We love having a student body with a wide variety of interests. But we’ve never had an applicant who competitively thumb wrestles or proficiently plays the gong and the harmonica. We hope Mr. Wang will bring his unique experiences to the halls of Harvard, and we’re confident that he will use his leadership skills to share his passion and provide cultural enrichment for the rest of our students.”
Mr. Wang has not yet made a final selection on his school of choice for next fall, but he seems to have his eyes on Harvard. “After taking a campus tour and getting to meet all the wonderful professors and staff members, Harvard seems like the perfect school for me. I would love to become a part of such a diverse and welcoming class.”
By Kevin Shen